I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Monday, April 30, 2012

In Scottish Plaid: Mary and Lenora Bain (and Doll), Astoria, Oregon, Circa 1873

This carte de visite was found in an antique store in Vancouver and is labelled, "Mary Bain, Lenora Bain" on the otherwise blank back of the photograph.  A photographer is provided:  H. S. Shuster, Artist."  But we're missing an importance piece of information on this card: the location.

The girls, presumably sisters, are wearing Scottish plaid dresses, which was a popular fabric pattern for girl's dresses during the 1860s and early 1870s.  The youngest is holding what appears to be a doll.  The setting has an 1860's feel to it because of the plain backdrop but it's possible that this photograph was taken at a travelling studio, or at the very least, in a hasty manner, because the chair draped with a somewhat wrinkly cloth, and the thin carpet is curled up in the right hand corner, exposing the floor.  The cardstock hints at more of a 1870s time period, with its rounded corners, and coloured, medium-thick paper.

I found two sisters, Mary and Lenora Bain, in the 1870 US Federal Census for Astoria, Clatsop, Oregon.  Their parents were Charles H. Bain, b. 1841 KY and Annie Bain, b. 1841, Iowa.  At the time, Mary was a one-year-old, and Lenora, only a month old.  The girls had two older brothers:  John, 5 and Charles, 3.  Charles Bain, Sr. was a carpenter and was probably doing fairly well at his trade. Lucy Langworthy, 13,  worked as a servant for the Bain family.

I wanted to learn a little about H.S. Shuster, to see if he would have worked in this area around 1873.

According to the 1880 Census, H. (Henry) S. Shuster, a photographer lived in Salem, Oregon.  He was born about 1830 in New Jersey.   Henry opened his first photographic studio in Middletown, Delaware and sometime in the latter part of the decade headed west to work as an itinerant photographer, first to Wichita, Kansas where he shows up in the 1870 Census, and then to Texas and Oklahoma.  At Fort Sill, OK, Shuster photographed the earliest images of the Tonkawa people. He moved on to Oregon in 1872, setting up shop in Astoria.  I found the following advertisement an Astoria newspaper:

Tri-Weekly Astorian, August 26, 1873
Shuster worked in Astoria for quite a few years afterwards, and also had studios in Portland, Hillsboro and Salem, Oregon.  In The Daily Astorian, Shuster ran a number of ads in the spring of 1879, inviting locals to "see late specimens lightning process of photographs, at H.S. Shuster's Art Galley."  The term "lightning process" was the latest buzzword in 1870s photographic circles.  Many processes were developed during this decade to speed up the amount of time it would take to record an image and develop it. The photographer was offering the curious public a chance to see a demonstration of the process.

So what happened to the girls?  They both appear with family in the 1880 census, still living in Astoria.  In Portland, Oregon; Its History and Builders, a local history written in 1911, we learn that Lenora married Charles P. Hogue, a prominent Portlander, in 1889.  There is an information-packed article about Mr. Hogue in the book, along with a photograph of the man.

Portland, Oregon; its history and builders, Volume 2, page 582
Lenora and Charles P. Hogue had one daughter, Lenora, born 1906.  In the 1920 US Census, the elder Lenora is listed as a widow.  By 1930, Lenora and her namesake are living in Los Angeles.  Lenora died the 7th of August, 1966 in Santa Clara.  The California Death Index lists her birth date as April 21, 1870.

Lenora's sister Mary was far more elusive.  The last mention I could find of her was in the 1880 Census (Astoria, OR).  


  1. My observation skills clearly weren't working to their fullest when I posted the H. S. Shuster advertisement above. Do you see the name on the ad below the photographer's ad? I had to go back to the newspaper to read it fully, "C.H. Bain, Contractor and Builder, Astoria, Oregon -- Is prepared to fill orders for any class of work, with promptness."

  2. Mary most definitely is elusive! I wasn't able to find any hints of what became of her.

  3. I Amy research my Bain family tree in great detail. I stumbled on this picture of your. I'll look through my documents to see if we can find them